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College counsellor dishes on tactics of super-rich helicopter parents

Some parents go to extreme lengths to ensure their child attends the best after-school club, the most elite soccer team, and is accepted early to the top school.

Ever wondered just what those extreme lengths are?

Allow Lacy Crawford, college counsellor to the super-rich, to enlighten you. One parent considered listing her son as Muslim so he had better chances at getting into his first-choice college. Another, because her son's last name was "exotic" and they had spent four years in Senegal, considered saying her pale-skinned child was black.

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The Atlantic Wire spoke with Crawford, a Princeton grad who became the secret weapon for wealthy helicopter parents fighting to clear the path for their children to get into coveted schools.

Later this week, you'll be able to purchase her tell-all book documenting her oh-so-interesting job.

The book is titled Early Decision, and though the main character's name is "Anne," she was modelled after Crawford herself. The names and specific details of the families she interacted with have been changed because, as she told the Atlantic Wire, "I have no interest in hurting people who have already been hurt by their parents' ambition."

Crawford also gave a taste of her prose to the New York Post: "Here the frenzy is amplified by money and power as it only can be in New York; college admissions are the culmination of a scramble that begins with nursery school. Here, too, the opportunities for obsessive parents to break a student's heart seem sharper than anywhere else."

She writes that students spend their lifetime under their parents' protective watch, receiving tutoring as early as in nursery school and being allowed to opt out of something difficult instead of spending more time trying to learn.

The book tracks five students trying to get early acceptance into college during one fall, and one of those stories scratches the surface of a father's I-will-do-anything personality: he is an attorney and he tries to convince Anne to write his daughter's entrance essays rather than help her do them herself. Fun fact: he also happens to be the chair of the Board of Trustees at the school she's trying to get into.

Crawford said the way the parents behave actually damages their children.

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But she had a great success rate. And after 15 years of doing it, she decided to throw in the towel and write.

Perhaps most telling in the book is the fact that Anne (a.k.a. Crawford) says she really didn't mean to become an admissions entrance guru. It was just what ended up happening, and what she then became known for. She was exposed to a lifestyle she never expected – being shuttled around from city to city, flown to prep sessions, and "slipped in and out of penthouse apartments and jogged up the side steps of brownstones like someone's mistress," she wrote.

Available on Amazon, the book promises to "explode the secrets of the college admissions race."

The sad thing is, while it will be a sobering read for some, it will probably give other parents more cunning ideas on how to get ahead.

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